Galway tartan

The Kenneys are a Scotch-Irish family. They came to America in the early 1700s, settled first in Pennsylvania, then moved south to Virginia before moving west. Capt. James and Margaret (Frame) Kenney were early settlers at Daniel Boone’s settlement in Boonesborough, Kentucky. The Kenney farm, Stonerside Farm in Bourbon County, is still an operating horse farm of 1,500 acres, now owned by the Sultan of Brunei. The Kenney Cemetery is on land that formerly belonged to the farm.

This family of Kenneys does not seem to be Scottish, although the surname Kenney is a common form of the Scottish names MacKenna, MacKenzie, and MacKinnon. The yDNA signature of James Barnett Kenney’s descendants does not match any McKennas, MacKenzies, or MacKinnons.

Instead, the Kenneys seem to have been an Irish family. DNA testing on the descendants of James Barnett Kenney shows they belongs to Haplogroup I-L1498 (Isles B), also designated I2a1a2a1a (2020). This DNA signature matches the Keaveneys, an Irish family in Galway. “Kinney & Variations y-DNA Results Page”, revised March 20, 2012, retrieved Nov. 28, 2020; “Kinney” project at FamilyTreeDNA, retrieved Nov. 28, 2020.

The surname Keaveney is an anglicized form of Ó Géibheannaigh, which means “descendant of Geibheannach.” The O Geibheannaigh sept came from County Galway. It was a branch of the Uí Maine (Hymany), said to be descended from Geibhennach (“captive”), son of Aedh, Chief of Hymany. Geibhennach was slain in battle in 971 at Keshcorran, County Sligo. Wikipedia: Keaveney, retrieved Nov. 28, 2020.

Lineal Genealogy

  1. James Kenney (c1700-?); married Mary Barnett (1710-?), daughter of John and Jennett (Power) Barnett,
  2. (Sgt.) James Barnett Kenney (c1726-1786), of Uniontown, Pennsylvania; married Ann Cramer (c1729-c1763), daughter of John Hendrick Cramer. He served in the American Revolution.
  3. (Capt.) James Kenney (1752-1814), of Stonerside Farm, North Middletown, Kentucky; married (1) Mary “Polly” Frame (1742-1796), daughter of John and Margaret (…) Frame. He served as a Private in the American Revolution, and was taken prisoner at the Battle of Germantown in 1778. After the war, he obtained a land grant in Kentucky, and was one of the early settlers at Boonesborough. He was a Captain in the local militia.
  4. Mary (Polly) Kenney (1779-after 1850); married William Hildreth (c1776-1816), of Bourbon Co., Kentucky. She told her children that she remembered riding in front of her father on horseback when the family moved from Virginia to Kentucky. After her husband’s death in 1816, she became one of the pioneers of Vermilion Co., Illinois.
  5. Angeline Hildreth (1806-1860); married (2) John Mallory (c1793-before 1880), of Champaign, Illinois. She and her first husband George Howe were pioneers in Vermilion Co., Illinois. When her husband was killed in the Black Hawk War in 1835, she took her three small children back to her mother’s home in Kentucky. In 1838 she returned to Illinois, settling first in Vermilion Co., where she married John Mallory. She died in 1860 while the family was in the process of moving to Iowa.


Revised Dec. 17, 2020.

One thought on “Kenney

  1. Just discovered a letter from my great grandmother that her grandmother was the daughter of James Kenney.

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